Startup News Digest 8/23/19

The Big Story: 2019 Congressional Startup Day. This Wednesday, August 21st was Congressional Startup Day, a nationwide celebration of entrepreneurial communities across the United States. Lawmakers used the day to highlight the importance of the U.S. startup ecosystem, as well as learn more about the issues affecting startups in their districts and across their states. More than 50 members of Congress and their staffers agreed to meet with startups and entrepreneurs during the August recess as part of Congressional Startup Day festivities. 

In an op-ed for Roll Call, Congressional Startup Day co-chairs Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). discussed the vital role startups play in supporting job growth and innovation, adding that the celebration is also “about advancing smart solutions and supporting programs” that startups need to continue expanding. The New Democrat Coalition echoed that sentiment in a Medium post, where they wrote, “startups are an integral component of our nation’s robust economy, accounting for nearly two million new jobs last year alone.”

In one of the first Congressional Startup Day meetings, WayUp in New York City had the opportunity to host Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) for a discussion about the startup’s work and related policy issues. The Louisiana Technology Park in Baton Rouge also had the opportunity to host Rep. Garrett Graves (R-La.) last week for a tour of several member companies and a roundtable discussion. In a blog post after the congressman’s visit, Louisiana Technology Park said members discussed “concerns about the Baton Rouge small business environment,” and that Rep. Graves “listened to their concerns, and together they discussed different ways to help small businesses thrive in Louisiana.” Jennifer Bonnett, the executive director of The Creative Coast in Savannah, hosted Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) for a Congressional Startup Day meeting. In a column for the Savannah Morning News, Bonnett delved into a number of topics discussed with the congressman, including: net neutrality, the need for a uniform privacy framework, legal liability protections for online platforms, greater access to capital, and better access to talent. 

Read more about Congressional Startup Day experiences here.

Policy Roundup:

Section 230 talk continues. A Democratic lawmaker, a presidential hopeful, and a top Justice Department official voiced support for various ways to curb the liability protections that have allowed online platforms that host user content to thrive over the past two decades. 

FCC, FTC officials question online censorship EO. FCC and FTC officials reportedly expressed serious concerns with a draft of President Donald Trump’s executive order that would empower the agencies to police claims of political censorship on social media platforms.

French pressure for support in taxing tech giants. Ahead of the G7 summit this weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “big digital players are not contributing to the common good,” and urged U.S. officials to help reform the global corporate tax code. The French parliament earlier this month approved a digital services tax that would impose a 3 percent tariff on tech firms with over 25 million euros ($27.75 million) in French revenue and a global revenue of more than 750 million euros worldwide (approximately $832 million) per year.

EU regulators investigating Facebook’s Libra currency. Antitrust regulators with the European Union are "currently investigating potential anti-competitive behavior” with Facebook’s proposed Libra digital currency, according to a document reviewed by reporters. The regulators expressed concerns that the cryptocurrency could create "possible competition restrictions” on consumer data and the information being exchanged.

CASE Act creates more problems than solutions. In a Morning Consult op-ed, Re:Create Coalition Executive Director Josh Lamel highlights the issues with the CASE Act—proposed legislation that would create a small claims court in the U.S. Copyright Office to handle copyright infringement claims.

U.S. wireless carriers throttling online videos. New research found that U.S. wireless carriers are throttling online video streaming in ways that are widespread and not tied to network congestion.

Commerce Department extends Huawei licenses. The U.S. Commerce Department added more than 45 businesses associated with Chinese telecoms firm Huawei to an export blacklist, but also announced that it was temporarily renewing a general license that allows U.S. companies to deal with Huawei on a limited basis.

Startup Roundup: 

#StartupsEverywhere: Rochester, MinnesotaMost of us think of wearables as the smartwatch on our wrist or the monitor embedded in grandma’s bracelet, but Rochester-based startup GoRout has imagined a new method for integrating software and wearable tech.